Han v. Bowen, Civ. No. 86-1466 LE.

Decision Date13 August 1987
Docket NumberCiv. No. 86-1466 LE.
Citation671 F. Supp. 702
PartiesQuang Van HAN, Plaintiff, v. Otis R. BOWEN, M.D., Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Oregon

Martin R. Cohen, Lake Oswego, Or., for Quang Han Van.

Craig J. Casey, Asst. U.S. Atty., Portland, Or., Kathryn Warme, Special Asst. U.S. Atty., for Secretary of Health and Human Services.


LEAVY, Circuit Judge, Sitting by Designation.

The plaintiff, Quang Van Han, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) denying him Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI).

Han applied for SSI on March 18, 1985. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. An administrative hearing was held on February 6, 1986 before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In an opinion dated May 2, 1986, the ALJ determined that Han was not disabled. The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Secretary on September 26, 1986, when the Appeals Council denied Han's request for review.


At the time of the hearing, Han was a sixty-two year old Vietnamese refugee with previous work experience as a herbal medicine store clerk in Vietnam. Han alleges disability since July 26, 1984 from Grave's disease, a spinal injury, and cataracts.

Han arrived in the United States in July 1984. In March 1985, Dr. Szeto, Han's treating physician, examined Han because of low back pain, poor vision, loss of appetite, and nervousness. Dr. Szeto diagnosed moderately severe degenerative joint disease of the lumbar area. Han experienced back pain on palpitation and chronic, moderately severe muscle spasms. Han could walk without much difficulty. Dr. Szeto thought Han would be "unable to seek employment for the next four months."

Dr. Szeto referred Han to Dr. Aversano, a neurologist, for further evaluation of his back pain on April 24, 1985. Han told Dr. Aversano that the pain, experienced for the last 15 years, had become more severe, radiating from the upper lumbar region down through the back and into the legs. Han had difficulty lying supine or rolling over. Dr. Aversano diagnosed possible conus medullaris syndrome and suggested myelography because Han's pain did not correlate with the abnormalities identified in an earlier CT scan.

On August 6, 1985, Dr. Szeto wrote the disability examiner: "Mr. Han's condition has been progressively getting worse. He experiences constant lower back pain."

Dr. Ebert performed a consultative examination of Han on August 29, 1985. Dr. Ebert wrote:

The patient has had back pain from his mid dorsal area at about T6, T7, bilaterally, to the tops of the iliac crests. His low back pain is constant. It fluctuates. It is aggravated by prolonged sitting, lifting anything as heavy as ten to 15 pounds, bending. He has to walk slowly because of his back pain, and also when he lies down he has to frequently change position....
Lumbosacral spine films, taken today, reveal advanced degenerative disc disease at L5-S1, with moderate degenerative disc disease at 4-5, with mild osteophytosis at 4-5 and mild to moderate osteophytosis at 5-1.

Dr. Ebert did not have Han's medical records, including a myelogram, CT scan, and the treating physician's evaluation, but in his opinion, Han's spinal problems did not correlate with the pain Han was experiencing. On the basis of his examination, the absence of atrophy, weakness or objective evidence of radiculpathy and Han's symptom complex, which "primarily consists of pain," Dr. Ebert concluded that Han was capable of performing medium or light to medium work.

Han also suffers bi-lateral cataracts. With his current glasses, Han reads 20/200 in each eye. Dr. Waldman, on referral from the Secretary, examined Han's eyes on May 14, 1985, and noted that Han's vision could be improved to 20/50 in the right eye and 20/80 in the left eye with proper refraction.

Han has Grave's disease, a thyroid disorder. Serum testing in January 1985 showed elevated thyroxine levels; in March 1985 the levels were within normal limits.

The record contains two sources of information about Han's past work in Vietnam: the Vocation Report (VR) prepared for the Secretary and hearing testimony. The VR indicates that Han's duties at the drug store included filling prescriptions, stocking drugs and other items from the warehouse and carrying other products such as groceries from the train and bus stations to the store. The average weight lifted was 10-25 pounds and the weight was carried 15 miles. The job involved constant bending and walking. According to the report, Han worked at the herbal medicine store seven days a week from 1970-1975.

At the hearing Han testified that he worked at the herbal medicine store from 1960-1984 when he stopped working and his wife and children went to work. Han's son testified that Han stopped working in 1975 because of his illness and that it was in 1975 that Han's wife and children went to work. Han also testified that when he worked he spent all of his time in the store and rested or slept when there were no customers. Han testified that he could not perform the same work now because of his physical limitations. Han testified that he had constant back pain, dizziness, and blurred vision. His son testified that Han's condition had worsened in the past three or four months. According to Han's son, Han spent most of his time lying down and could walk only a few feet without pain. Han had difficulty understanding and answering the ALJ's questions at the hearing because he spoke no English even though an interpreter was used.

The ALJ found Han's testimony concerning his pain and its limitations not "fully credible" because of "inconsistencies in symptoms, findings, and behavior," stating that "the claimant's testimony cannot be given great weight because of the inconsistencies in his statements regarding his pain and due to his posturing and bizarre behavior at the hearing which was inconsistent with his complaints." The ALJ found Han's past work to be light, semiskilled work and found that Han could perform his past work. The...

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4 cases
  • Farmer v. Colvin, 2:15-CV-0073-MKD
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Washington
    • March 30, 2016
    ...to her assertion, a treating physician's opinion, when not contradicted, constitutes substantial evidence. See, e.g., Han v. Bowen, 671 F. Supp. 702, 705 (D. Or. 1987) (affirming ALJ's decision because examining doctor's uncontradicted opinion constituted substantial evidence). When a treat......
  • Ciardella v. Carson City School Dist.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Nevada
    • October 14, 1987
  • Quang Van Han v. Bowen, 87-4284
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • August 21, 1989
    ...Appeals Council denied Han's request for review. Han appealed to a district court, which affirmed the Secretary's decision. Han v. Bowen, 671 F.Supp. 702 (D.Or.1987). Reviewing the judgment of the district court de novo, 2 we examine the decision of the Secretary to ensure that it is suppor......
  • Martinez v. Bowen, 86 Civ. 0176 (JES).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • May 16, 1988
    ...English is irrelevant to a determination of whether he can do his past relevant work. See Social Security Ruling 82-40; Han v. Bowen, 671 F.Supp. 702, 705 (D.Or.1987); Tsukerman v. HHS, No. 85-854, slip op. at 6-9 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 6, 1985). Although the Secretary considers a claimant's abilit......

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